Both her political career and state would be in much better shape if Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto were as independent-minded as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Last week, Sen. Joe Manchin announced his support for a massive new tax and spending program. The bill would shower $369 billion on green projects, such as electric vehicle tax credits and tax credits for wind and solar power. It would impose de facto price controls on medications and extend Obamacare subsidies. It would raise taxes on corporations, investment and crude oil.
Democrats are calling it the Inflation Reduction Act. It shouldn’t take an advanced degree in economics to realize how Orwellian this is. This bill would pump hundreds of billions of dollars into uncompetitive products while raising taxes on productive industries. That’s how you get inflation.
A more accurate title would be the Inflation Re-enforcement Act.
This is especially bad news for Nevadans. In June, household inflation costs in Nevada hit 14.9 percent. Per household, that’s an $800 increase in expenses. Over a year, that would be a $9,700 increase. Inflation acts like a termite infestation. It that eats away at savings accounts and families’ dreams of upward mobility. It hinders low-income families from achieving the American Dream.
One might think that Cortez Masto would be outspoken about inflation, if only out of political self-interest. She’s up for re-election. Polls consistently show her well below 50 percent, which is a major red flag for an incumbent. The economy is the top issue for voters.
But Cortez Masto treats inflation like Voldemort from Harry Potter — the issue that must not be named. Reuters put together a whole article this summer on how she won’t mention the word. It’s hard to solve a problem you won’t even talk about.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Senate is 50-50, which means Democrats need every single vote to pass this bill. Sinema may use this fact to remove a tax change on carried interest that she has long opposed.
It would benefit Nevada greatly if Cortez Masto were willing to do something similar.
She should leverage her vote for something that would benefit her constituents. The most obvious issue is water. Condition her vote on the funding for a cross-country pipeline that delivers water to Lake Mead or somewhere farther upstream. Demand that Nevada gets the first 300,000 acre-feet a year plus 15 percent of additional water. Prevent the release of the bill’s other funding until the pipeline is flowing with water. That would incentivize environmental groups not to stall the project through endless lawsuits. Require expedited permit approval from federal agencies, too.
That would be much more transformational and important than the bill’s green spending. That $369 billion will reduce global temperatures by only 0.0009 degrees to 0.028 degrees — in 2100. That’s according to Bjorn Lomborg, who writes extensively on the climate.
Getting more water for the Southwest would help 40 million people and dramatically boost her re-election chances. But Cortez Masto has consistently prioritized Biden’s inflation-causing agenda over being an independent voice for Nevada. Don’t expect voters to forget that in November.